Friday, February 29, 2008

The Singapore Sling

Singapore is my new second favorite city in the world, right after Vancouver, B.C and right before Seattle, I just came back from there. Granted, I have not been to that many countries or cities in the world, but regardless, it is my new favorite number two. It is absolutely everything Beijing is not right now (the picture was taken from my camera phone and does not quite capture the beauty, actually it doesn't capture the beauty at all); Singapore is warm, beautiful, luscious, clean, friendly, smells good, and is just plain wonderful. I was only there for two days but I loved it. In particularly, I loved the fact that it greenery it was clean and it was warm. The beach was also pretty flipping amazing.

They night I got to Singapore I was awestruck, I couldn't believe how nice and clean it was. After finally settling down in my amazing hotel room (that is what the video is about), I went to go get a late night meal, and then I was awestruck again. As I walked down Orchard street, I began to notice an abnormal amount of sexily dressed and copious makeup wearing women lining the street. I thought it was kind of odd considering I have heard that Singapore is kind of strict on cleanliness, so I thought these can't be rented company. But sure enough as I began to cross the street a pimp approached me. Seeing rented company on the street is not what made me awestruck again. I stayed in Hamburg, Germany and saw rented company all over the Ripperbahn (the Ripperbahn shocked me, maybe because I was young, maybe because I have never seen woman selling themselves in windows before, whatever it was it was something I could not comprehend at first). I love that word RIPPPER BAHN sounds so German. Anyway, what struck me was what happened after I finally walked around and found a place to eat. I end up going to some place called something monkey or other. I don't remember the name. I went there because I was trying to find Singaporean food because I have never had it. The place had a great strawberry banana smoothie and good chicken fettuccine. I would go back for just the smoothies if I could. Back to what awestruck me, as I was sitting at the table waiting for food, some guy asked me what I was doing in the area, but he asked in the way like what are youuuuuu doing in this area. I was like ah, I am here at this hotel and wanted something to eat. He gave me that yeah right look, and was like I am serious, what is wrong with this area? Even though I had already noticed the rented company everywhere. He was like well if you have noticed this is the area for rented company. He was like just go in that door over there and you will see. So after I finished eating I, went to inspect. What I thought was just some random building or a mall (which it probably is in the day time) was not what it seemed. It was like a mall full of rented company. I have not seen that many rented company people in one place in my life. I mean I have only seen the RIPPPPPER BAHN, but still it was a mall full of rented company. Like you could just go in and try on whatever you like. It wasn't until letter on my cab ride home talking to the tax driver that I found out rented company was legal in Singapore.

But before my cab ride out of the my number two favorite city. I went to the beach (East Coast Beach Park, I think was the name). And it was amazing. Probably not the best beach in the world, but better than all the beaches I have been to in Beijing. I loved it. Palm trees, sand, fresh fruit juice stands, good Singaporean food and those things that twinkle in the sky, for the longest time I forgot they existed. I was laying on the beach watching the sunset and all of sudden it go dark and these bright lights were in the sky that didn't move. And was like what the hell is that and there were three of them in a row. And I finally realized on, thats Orion's belt. I have seen that before, just not through the pollution in Beijing. Anyway, I am just kidding, the pollution is not that bad in Beijing, please Chinese government don't arrest me, I like it here, kind of.

Singaporean food is incredible bona fide scrumptulescentness. My favorite is the sweet not the savory, don't get them confused, fried carrot cake. It is not carrot cake in the sense westerns might think of carrot cake. It is more like the Chinese 年糕 and very very good. But my favorite was the fresh fruit juices. I have never had fresh lime juice or fresh sugar cane juice. They both get the gold star of scrumptulescentness. I know what you are thinking sugar cane's don't produce juice or sugar cane juice must be sweet as hell, well yes, sugar cane juice is sweet but not as sweet as you would think. I have had people's kool aids that tasted way sweeter. And lime juice, to my surprise not that sour. Not that sour at all. Why I thought they were sour, I don't know, but they are not. And also green apple-orange-pineapple juice is amazing. Who would have thought, not me. I need to learn more about fruit. Fruitology seems pretty important in terms of improving my tastology.

Highlight of the Day: Coming back to a warmer Beijing, but I much rather be in Singapore right now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Beijing Live Music Scene

Last weekend was really fun. I got a chance to discover some new live music places. The first place I went to was on VD. It was One East on Third. They had an excellent VD menu by the way, they parred the wine very well with the meal. But the live music was not so great. It was just music that is nice to listen to during dinner. One I am even mentioning it I don't know. But if you like to eat and listen to music it is an okay place and a good place to take someone on VD.

The places that I did discover last weekend were the Nashville, CJW and Oriental Taipan Bar.

The Nashville, is a live music bar that plays live country and blues. I normally don't like country music, but when you hear it live, it sounds so much better. I can understand a lot better why people like it now. I am not going to say that this band that played that night was playing great country music, because I don't really know. But it played well enough.

CJW is a great place, because it seems so pretentious but in a different way than Centro. When you walk in to CJW you know it is going to be expensive and then you look at the menu and you are like yup I was right. But the band that they have playing there this month is really good. They play old school songs. And the dream is the best I heard since I been to China. But if you are going to go all the way to the Place, I suggest that you don't go just to see CJW. If I were you I would have dinner at the Ganges first. It is by far the best Indian food I have had since I have been to Beijing.

The other place I found last weekend, and probably my new second favorite place to listen to live music is Oriental Taipan Bar. The jazz trio they have playing their is as my friend said we studies music, so tight. They compose their own music and play so much in sync. It is much different than the jazz you hear at the East Shore Live Jazz Cafe. Which is often not as polished and the drummer tends to go off on his own tangents and hit the drum to hard. But the ESLJ Cafe is still my favorite place to listen to jazz. Just something about it. Maybe its the atmosphere. I learned recently the owner of the ESLJ Cafe used to play in for Cui Jian, the godfather of Chinese rock. Why that is important to not, I don't know. But the pianist is a teacher a conservatory and really good. But back to the Oriental Taipan Bar, it is great and the band plays in a little space in the back, so it has a one on one feel with you and the band. And the great part about it is they have two for one beer specials and 25 kuai wine. Probably the best deal in Beijing, in terms of real alcohol. You can always go to Pure Girl and Nanjie and drink fake alcohol and that beer that test like piss. But piss beer has its place too.

I have decided that my life has become so ordinary here in Beijing. Nothing really exciting happens to me anymore. I might as well be living in the States. I long for the days when monkeys used to attack me and people would kill birds in the classrooms I was studying in. Thus, I have decided to change the direction of the blog to inform, my main readership, mostly my friends and family who plan to visit me, mostly. About things to do in Beijing, that way when they come I can be like you read my blog, you already know what I know. So what do you want to do and I don't know is not an exceptable answer.

Highlight of the Day: Knowing that today is the last day of Spring Festival and that they can no longer set off fireworks. I am so tired of hearing them, they are incessant. The picture above is to mark the end of the Spring Festival. Because after tomorrow the tree is probably going to be taken down. Don't ask me what a X-mas tree and a reindeer have to with Spring Festival only the guardians of the tree can tell you that.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring Festival 2008 or 2007 (I am not quite sure what year it would be) Through Pictures

This blog will probably be in two parts but probably not. Anyway, instead of me writing a long boring blog about what I did. I am just going to use a slideshow to explain most of the things that happened, I say most because that was a week or two ago and I forgot most of the thing that happened already. Anyway just enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Exploring Beyond Nanluoguxiang

Two weeks or so ago, (I don't remember now, the events from my spring festival trip are still in my mind) I went to explore the hutongs north of nanluoguxiang. Here are some of the pictures from that event in a nice pretty slideshow (google products are so amazing).

It was a great place to visit, but the best thing about it besides the culture and interesting sights is the cafe called Siif. The place just opened last month and not many people know about it yet. I feel like it is going to get only better as it gets warmer. It has a small but quaint rooftop and the furniture is really interesting and from what I hear hand made. But from now on, what defines a good cafe from a great one, besides the atmosphere and music (Siif plays house, hip-hop, and jazz fusion), is whether or not the make a good bailey's hot chocolate. And even though it was not on the menu, the bartender made one hell of bailey's hot chocolate. But if you don't like good music, not overcrowded, relaxing, cool layout (Siif has these cool glass floors, would not advice wearing a skirt in this place) and good drinks, Siif is not the place for you. Oh and it has wifi, if you need to bring your computer there for some reason. Any, the tone of this blog is all wrong. It is not supposed to be a guide on where to go in Beijing. It is supposed to be about the me. The most important topic in the world. So future blogs will definitely be about that and slideshows, lots and lots of slideshows. Who doesn't like looking at someone else's pictures and experiences.

Highlight of the Day: Returning from my spring festival trip, more on that excursion in the next blog.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Official Endorsement for President of the United States

I know this blog is not about US politics and I normally try to stir clear of politics in general. But once in every generation there is a person that moves you and inspires you in the hope and future of your country. It is a person that rebukes the status quo and offers a message of change and message of a world that you can believe in, a world that you want to be a part of and make better. It is a message beyond hope, but a message of a brighter future that you know can and will be achieved.

Many will say this person doesn't have enough experience or that this person cannot will because of their race or gender. But I say experience only matters if it helps you make the right decision. Experience is not a guaranteed to path to making the right choices are to even lead. Some people have inherent wisdom and know how to collect and internalize information in ways that paints a picture that others cannot see and that focus on the bigger picture. And these are the people that need to lead our country into the future. And this person has this.

Her wisdom is built on the back of the beast called adversity. This person knows what it is like to struggle and be told you cannot do it. This person is a knows what it is like to have very little and work their way up through law school and the upper reaches of society. This person has never let the people tell her that she could not achieve because of the color of her skin or because she was a women.

She is one the most brilliant and one of the most powerful speakers I have ever heard. She moves people in a way that JFK and MLK used to. She is one of the only people that I have heard that can tell a crowd that they are not good enough and still have them cheer and believe in her message. She will have the backing of a politically experience and tested husband to help guide her when she is in the white house. She is the candidate that best embodies the democratic message and best embodies the democratic party and best represents where we have been and where we are going. She is what you would get if you combined the best of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. She is the future and the hope of the United States and that is why I am official endorsing Michelle Obama for President.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Thanks Golzer

I have been recently informed that my facts about the world are all wrong and that China is no longer the second largest country in the world. Apparently, China has given over some of its land to its neighbors to become the fourth largest country in the world. It was very gracious of them and a gesture of goodwill.

But more important yesterday, I forgot to report that I had one of the best Chinese winds I have ever had. It doesn't mean it was good, it was just the best Chinese wine I have ever had. It was a red wine and surprisingly it was kind of cold. But the win was a 1996 Greatwall. All the other Greatwalls I have tried taste like piss. I have not been very impressed at all with the Chinese wine skills.

And speaking of the fine things. Last week, I discovered a great place to listen live Jazz. It is probably my new favorite play to listen to live music. All though Cheers on Saturday is really good too. But the place is in Houhai and it is called the East Shore Live Jazz Cafe. It is like the kind of place that you feel like Miles Davis began his career at. It has a nice chill atmosphere, the perfect place to listen to old school improvised jazz. It is much different than the jazz seen at Centro and Purple Haze Bistro. It doesn't feel polished. And the band we saw was a local jazz group. It was as good as any band that I have seen play in NYC. It is definitely a place that anybody who lives in Beijing and likes jazz should go to.

The best places to listen to live music that you don't have to pay for are (except for the drinks and this is heavily bias because I like Jazz):

East Shore Live Jazz Cafe
Cheers (only on Saturday when they play Latin music, I don't know if they have music other days but maybe. probably should be something I should check out.)
Purple Haze Bistro (only on Wednesday)

Highlight of the Day: Figuring out that I am not as smart as I pretend to be and the pancakes that I ate this morning. They could have used some Vermont maple syrup but they were still good though.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Blistering Snowstorms

Recently, many people have been asking me the same question over and over again. So I thought I would address it before another person asks me. I am very grateful for all of your concern and support. I am not entirely sure if the problem is that the news is saying that China is facing a snowstorm and not actually addressing which region is being affected and/or if people just don't know where Beijing is on a map of China and/or if people don't realize that the China is the second largest country in the world (the US is the 4th largest can you guess who number three is?) and/or if people are just monkeys and don't think. But anyway, I think it has snowed maybe three times since I have been in Beijing and each time the snow was on the ground for less than 24 hours. This is kind of bad, but I didn't even know that there was a snowstorm problem in China until people started asking me if I was frozen in the snow. However, this is a good and bad thing. It is good because it should help me in my job and it is bad because I have heard from a reliable source that it is snowing very heavily in Hangzhou, the place I am going next week, so that I can participate in the world's largest mass emigration. Every hope with me that my train gets there.

I think besides that, that is the only semi-interesting thing going on in my life, well maybe that and the fact that I am going to be on CCTV in France. Actually, I might be on CCTV in France. Recently one of my friend was invited to be a star for a show on CCTV and she asked me to come along and help make her show interesting. And me being the person I am, the type to enhance any setting or situation, I gladly participated and probably stole the show and/or made it better. Once I get a copy I am sure it will be on this blog. The picture is me on an awesome ice bike. I was doing so narley tricks on it. I am hoping to make it a new X game event for 2009. And the other picture at he being speaks for itself. Well, maybe not it is a picture of a guy swimming at Houhai, where we did the interview. It also shows that there is no snowstorm here.

I have been to a couple of new cafes and restaurants. If you ever have chance to go on a date in Beijing. I suggest Metro, it is a nice intimate Italian restaurant. While the food is not that good, Annie's is by far better and probably my third favorite restaurant in Beijing, pushing Mare to number 4, the ambiance is excellent. You take a girl there and you will be guaranteed to have a happy ending to the night. And four any of you who have been to Nanluoguxiang, you will know that there are like a billion cafes there. However, the best one by far in my opinion (and my opinion is very valid because I have been to a total of maybe three cafes there) is the Sand Glass Cafe. The thing that makes this place great besides its great old rustic feel and atmosphere is that they have probably the worlds best bailey's hot chocolate. It is better than the awesom-o 3000. It seriously, probably my new favorite winter drink, it warms you well after the warmth of the cup is gone. It gets the gold star for scrumptulescentness.

Highlight of the Day: Realizing that I been fulling some of my New Years Resolutions. Well one, and that is working out once a month. I am well on my way to getting back in shape and back to good health. I hope exercise cures la duzi. Actually, the real highlight of the day was the fact that it is a nice relatively warm and pollution free day.